Tribute to the 50th Reunion Class of 1954
In the Trinity Circle of Life, the Class of 1954 claims a privileged place as the class that saw Trinity through its half-century mark. Entering Trinity in the fall of 1950, fully 50 years after the pioneer class of 1904 first set foot on this campus, you were young women on the cusp of a great new world, children raised in the era of depression and war, now proud young citizens planning to enjoy the hard-won peace that your older brothers and cousins and fathers had fought for, loyal women of the Church who sought to reap the benefits of a Trinity education so that you could bring the light of knowledge and faith to your families, workplaces and communities in the years of come.
You drank in the wellsprings of Trinity with gusto, marveling at the wisdom and eloquence of Fr. Eugene Burke, attendant to the facts of science and math as presented by Sister Julitta and St. John Nepomucene and Dr. Varnhorn, puzzling through the logic of Sister Ann Julia, in thrall at the tales of politics during the formation of the United Nations as relayed through the experience of the young Dr. Edna Fluegel. You took care to stay on the good side of Sister Columba; you knew you could find a glint of humor and understanding in the eyes of Sister Ann Francis.
Even as you prepared to embrace the world, the world beyond was about to change dramatically. 1954: your graduation year; amazing events emerging. A senator by the name of Joe McCarthy was on the hunt. In a remote French garrison in an exotic land called Vietnam, a skirmish planted the seeds of a new war and a new era. A young actor named Brando took the Oscar that should have been Bogart’s, On the Waterfront trumping The Caine Mutiny. Meanwhile, Hitchcock gave us Rear Window, with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954, in the very same year that sparked the revolution in civil rights with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
The effect of these events in 1954 is still echoing through our culture and society 50 years hence. You, the Class of 1954, were on the leading edge of the revolution — perhaps reluctantly at times, perhaps perplexed and bewildered at times, perhaps angry and resistant at times, perhaps riding the wave with glee and exhilaration at times. You rode the wave. You raised your children through the ongoing cultural revolution, adapting to each new and increasingly shocking form of adolescent behavior, learning to be vocal and bilingual Catholics translating “Pax vobiscum” into Peace through turbulent times of war and riot and struggles for justice.
You have arrived at your Golden Jubilee Year at Trinity with stewardship reports in hand, the accounting of what you have done with your Trinity education through the past five decades. Your lives have written those reports in times of tears and triumph, in days of despair and moments of joy. Trinity now bestows upon you the gold medals that proclaim your witness to the “ideals that never swerve,” the ideals of our alma mater. Today is a landmark, not a destination. As the Classes of ’49 and ’44 and ’39 and ’34 who are with us today will attest, the 50 th Reunion moment is not the end of the journey by any stretch. You’re not off the Trinity hook. As you leave this Chapel today bedecked with your new medals, may you go forth renewed in the power, wisdom and love of the most Holy Trinity, riding that wave with new fervor, holding high the banner of knowledge and faith that is the sign and symbol of Trinity to the world.